The Romance of Fan Fiction, part 4 by Jude Sierra

Hello all! Happiest of Novembers to everyone. This month we wanted to welcome Jude Sierra for two exciting reasons: first for a very first look at her upcoming novel and second, for a four part series she wrote for Binge On Books. Jude will be spending the month of November discussing the intersections between some of her favorite things: fanfiction, romance novels, and authors you know who play in both sandboxes! Jude will be talking with some of your favorite romance authors throughout the month about their fanfiction to original fiction publication stories and just how important fan communities have been to them.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, there’s one more order of business. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a new novel by Jude, and we’re excited to announce the details of her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater.

Blurb: Reid Watsford has struggled with his cyclothemia his whole life. When his grandmother offers him a place to stay at her condo in Key Largo, he decides to leave Wisconsin, his ex, and his family to try to make a fresh start. There he meets Joaquim, a Brazilian wanderer who came to the US looking for adventure, and ended up an intern at the Key Largo Dive Shop. When Reid signs up for his introductory dive classes, it seems an adventure has come to Joaquim—but Reid has a lot of secrets, and a past he can’t quite escape. As their relationship deepens, so do Reid’s complications, something they both must learn to navigate—on their own and with each other.

Coming from Interlude Press on May 17th, 2018. 


The Romance of Fanfiction, part 4

Why Fanfiction:

As I wrap up this blog series, I find that I could say so many more things about what a gift fanfiction and fan communities are and have been for me. Let’s be honest, that’s basically what I’ve done this past month: write a long winded love letter to the practice, but also in a way, to the authors whose work I love and who too have loved what fanfiction has given them.

When I interviewed authors, my final question was this: if you could tell the world one positive thing about fanfiction or fanfiction communities, what would it be? Community, friendship, learning experiences, cultural importance: these were just some of the answers I received.

Co-writers Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sternick, themselves authors of fanfiction, described other fan authors as, “incredibly dedicated. They spend hours and hours creating new stories, verses and series, for an audience that doesn’t even know their real names, let alone pay for their work.” This dedication and love for work and fictional worlds is what led Tom and Jen to their write own original fiction: one of the main characters in their soon to be released novel, Snowsisters, writes fanfiction and is active in online communities. Their example, and that of authors who described the doors opened to them through fanfiction, shows this – that fanfiction offers a world of opportunity and inspiration and future potential.

I’ll be honest and say that one of my favorite responses to my final question came from Racheline Maltese (Love in Los Angeles series, Tremontaine). “People who like stuff hang out and talk about it. I feel like that’s a really minor, bland statement, but that’s sort of my point. It’s like any other hobby, sometimes it’s where you meet your best friends.” In this series of blog posts, there were so many threads I could have explored; so many lovely things each author shared. At the end of the day, however, one of the most important things I’d love to see would be readers of this series walked away with this: it doesn’t always have to be complicated. Yes, sometimes it is complex. But it’s also just fun.

Writing fanfiction is often a breath of fresh air. It’s enjoyable and it’s a rollercoaster. It’s a unique experience shared with other people who just love a thing as much as you do. It’s filled with laughter and tears. I once wrote a story so filled with cute banter I woke my husband up laughing. For those of us in the Glee community, losing Corey Monteith was a tremendous blow. Writing about Finn was cathartic, it was healing, and it helped us feel like we weren’t alone. Writing fanfiction provides us with an outlet to love and remember a thing together, whether in joy, sorrow, and the millions of nuanced human experiences and emotions in between.

For many of us fanfiction has allowed us to see or place ourselves – our othered selves – within stories that often exclude us. For Taylor Brooke (Fortitude Smashed), fandom was a place to create a self-affirming, inclusive narrative. “I wanted to see more of the characters in certain fandom worlds and more importantly, I wanted to see them Queer. I wrote stories where characters were out and proud… because I was desperate to find myself in media.” So many of us want our queer bodies, our colored bodies, our real selves to be reflected in the world and in media. Fanfiction is a space where we get to do that.

There is often a practice of justification many of us fanfiction authors feel we must participate in in order to be taken seriously. I want to shelve that and redirect to the best of this world. The final message from authors interviewed then: here we learned to write. Here we had fun. Here we learned how to put ourselves into conversations that have marginalized or excluded us, giving ourselves affirming stories, love stories, queer and erotic stories – and with them, lifelong friendships and communities of love and support.

Personally, fanfiction and fandom have meant the absolute world to me. Without them I would never have this platform to even share these stories. I wouldn’t be published. More importantly, there would be huge parts of myself (my sexuality, my desire to connect with community stories and narratives, my intense love of fictional stories and characters) I would not understand. But whether big or small, lighthearted and simple or deeply personal, writing fanfiction has been life changing. I wouldn’t change a thing.


Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who  began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007. In 2011Jude was introduced to the Glee fan community began writing fanfiction, where her stories garnered thousands of readers.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews.  Her novels include Hush,  What it Takes,  and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.

Social Media Links: Website Twitter Goodreads Facebook


Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sternick are two friends who started a conversation in high school and years later are still talking. Together they write LGBTQIAP+ YA fiction, and blog about LGBTQAIP+ books at neverhaveieverbooks (@nhiebooks). Their upcoming novel, Snowsisters, will be coming in February of 2018.


Racheline Maltese is a hybrid author who has published in non-fiction, fanfiction and with various small, medium and big five presses. She has published several novels, novelas and short stories with fellow fan author Erin McRae. Their most recent work is the award winning A Queen from The North. They can be found at www.Avian30.com.


Taylor Brooke if a former special effects makeup professional and the author of the Camelia Clock series the first of which, Fortitude Smashed was published in 2017. The sequel, Curved Horizon will be released in March of 2018.


 

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Exclusive Interview and ARC Giveaway: In Other Lands author, Sarah Rees Brennan

One time Sarah Rees Brennan wrote a story over a few months on her Livejournal, about Elliott, a bisexual red-headed irritant who loves books, who went to magic school in a magic world and immediately had a lot of bones to pick with the rules. Now that story is expanded for print as In Other Lands, and is available now for all your bickering found family, awkward slow crushes, and elven warrior matriarchy needs!

Today, we have the lovely Sarah Rees Brennan here to talk mermaids, friendships, and the importance of storytelling.

Read More

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Author Chat with Binge on Books: Holly Black

Hello and welcome to Author Chat, an intimate and light-hearted books inspired podcast with Judith from Binge on Books interviewing your favorite authors!

Who’s on deck today? HOLLY BLACK!

Yes, that Holly Black. Author of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, The Darkest Part of the Forest, The Magesterium Series with Cassandra Clare, The Spiderwick Chronicles with Tony DiTerlizzi, and up next, The Cruel Prince

She joins Judith to chat all things books, co-writing, what she does when she’s not writing, and teases from upcoming projects!



Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare), The Darkest Part of the Forest, and her upcoming new fantasy series starting with Cruel Prince. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award and a Newbery Honor. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door.

Connect with Holly: Website | Twitter

Get the books from the podcast:

Ellen Kushner‘s Swordpoint

N.K. Jemison‘s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Nancy Collins‘ Sunglasses After Dark

Poppy Z. Brite‘s Lost Souls

Anne Rice‘s Interview with the Vampire

KJ Charles’ Charm of Magpies series

Roan Parrish’s In the Middle of Somewhere series

Amy Jo Cousins’ Bend or Break series


Judith is the curator of Binge on Books as well as a columnist for Teen Vogue and USA Today. You can hear more of her in Author Chat  and What’s On My Kindle? as well as her reviews on the site.

Get in touch with her on Twitter or send her an email (she loves email!) at judith@bingeonbooks.com.


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Book Talk: Interview with Julia Ember, author of The Seafarer’s Kiss

A quote from a recent article in Vice magazine came back to me vividly as I sat down to read The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember. Queer retellings of stories are a reminder, Vice asserted, that the classics don’t just belong to straight white guys—they belong to the LGBTQ community, too.

Yes, this. Always and forever this. Far too often the classic stories of our childhoods display a very one sided and narrow view of the world, reflecting back the conventions of the time in a pretty package. The original Little Mermaid tale of 1837 is just that–a reflection of what society expected from women at the time. The story follows a mermaid who is willing to give her all–her family, her history, her very identity–in order to marry a man, who in the end refuses to acknowledge her sacrifices, and she dies. No true page time is given to her thoughts or wants. She exists to love a man and when he can’t love her back, she has no more reason to exist.  

Enter Julia Ember and The Seafarer’s Kiss. This gorgeous young adult novel subverts the original, asking readers to view the Little Mermaid in a wholly different light. Mermaid Ersel is a strong, independent female with a layer of protective blubber that keeps her warm in the ice shelves of the northern sea. When she meets Ragna, the sole survivor of a shipwreck and befriends her, feelings blossom between the two. Ersel’s would be suitor catches them and issues an ultimatum: give up this budding relationship or be stuck under the thumb of the Mer-King making babies for the rest of her life. So what does Ersel do? Creates a third choice and takes her own destiny in hand.

Everything about this book is magic — the imagery of the frozen waters of the north is glorious and so real; the sweet new feelings between Ersel and Ragna are confusing and fragile; the questioning of Ersel’s choices and the effects they’ll have on her future underscore what all teens (and adults) feel. And while the themes and threads of the original are still there, this reimagined Little Mermaid is a fierce presence who waits for no man to make choices for her. Plus it incorporates a great deal of Norse Mythology including several killer appearances by the God of Lies themselves, Loki.

Luckily I was able to catch up with Julia Ember before the release of her book to talk The Seafarer’s Kiss, Norse Mythology, homosexuality among the Vikings, and what she ultimately wants to see more of in books.

Judith for Binge on Books: Julia, welcome! I can’t fully do justice to how much I loved the book and its haunting take on the Little Mermaid myth. What was the evolution to writing this? Did you wake up one day and decide that you needed to redo a classic story? Was there a spark or something specific that forced your hand in writing this particular idea?

Julia Ember: I’m so glad you loved the story!

Before deciding that academia wasn’t for me, I spent two years doing a postgraduate degree in Mediaeval Literature. As part of my course, I studied both Anglo-Saxon and Norse poems, as well as their mythology and history. I’ve always been truly fascinated by the pre-Christian Vikings, their legends, their gods and in the cultural shift that happened after they started living among Anglo-Saxons. In a way, it’s a myth that the Vikings conquered the Anglo-Saxons. They did invade their land, but in the end, Anglo-Saxon culture, which was part of the Latin Christian Empire already, lured many of the Vikings away from their historic way of life. There is an Anglo-Saxon poem called The Seafarer which follows an exiled sailor as he laments his loneliness on the high seas. It is a hauntingly beautiful poem. A lot of my inspiration for the character of Ragna came from thinking about that cultural war, and the clash of cultures that plays out in the Seafarer poem.

The Little Mermaid has always been my favourite fairy tale! I always knew that if I was going to write retellings, it would be the first story I would explore. The book itself started out as a short story/novelette. I actually went out on submission with that, had a few requests, but it didn’t sell.

Judith: Since you draw so heavily on Norse Myth to infuse this book, is it safe to assume that there is a Little Mermaid story in that cannon? If so, how do The Seafarer’s Kiss and that myth differ?

Julia: Sadly, there is no Little Mermaid story in Norse Myth! As a category, Norse Myths don’t tend to be particularly romance driven tales nor do they tend to be very character focused. Norse literature and myth is heavily focused on achievements and heroism – conquering monsters, far off lands. The Norse elements in Seafarer’s Kiss are incorporated into the world-building and the characters of Ragna and Loki. Ragna is a gender-swapped, very lose interpretation of Ragnar Lodbrok, a Viking leader who started the process of taking over Anglo-Saxon England. Ragnar may or may not have been a real person, but his legend is pervasive. My version of Loki is much closer to the sinister Norse God than the playful Marvel counterpart.

Judith: So if there’s no Little Mermaid, did you find evidence of queer narratives in any Norse Mythology you used as research?

Julia: Norse mythology is sadly pretty heteronormative, although a few pre-Christian Viking historical sources do indicate that Vikings thought homosexuality was a normal part of getting older. Kind of an odd cultural phenomenon there. The Vikings were a lot like the Romans or the Greeks, in that homosexuality wasn’t illegal or expressly frowned upon, but people did think that in a gay relationship being the passive partner undermined a person’s masculinity.

The god Loki, however, is an interesting one. They are often described as a man, but some legends show them as a woman. There is a well-known Norse myth where Odin punishes Loki by forcing them to give birth to monsters. In that legend, Loki’s gender is very obscure. They become pregnant and give birth, but retain many masculine qualities. The legend does, however, use feminisation as a form of punishment, where other legends simply present Loki as androgynous or female. In my version of Loki, I wanted their fluidity to be something they embraced. I also wanted them in full control of their own identity and self-presentation.

Judith: Even though this is a fairytale retelling, did any of your own experiences influence the writing?

Julia: Seafarer’s Kiss is an #ownvoices bisexual book, and so I wrote that aspect of Ersel and Ragna from my own life experience. I think, like Ersel with Havamal, I also have a bad habit of hanging onto people for a long time, hoping that they will change.

Judith: With that in mind, what do you want to see more of in books? Particularly in YA and NA?

Julia: I definitely want to see more diverse fantasy! I think contemporary has been charging ahead in terms of number of books published with characters across the LGBTQIA spectrum and POC. In fantasy, we’ve had a number of very high profile books that have had terrible representation when that shouldn’t be the case. I think speculative fiction offers such a perfect opportunity for writers to develop worlds that aren’t predominantly white or cishet. It’s disheartening how many books fall into that specification considering the writers are creating new worlds, where nothing else is the same as ours. Prejudice shouldn’t be the common factor between our world and fantasy kingdoms.

Judith: What is one question you would want a reader to ask about this book but they never do?

Julia: It’s not really a specific question, but I wish readers would ask more questions about Ragna and her past! She’s a really fierce, independent character, but I think Ersel and Loki steal most of the limelight from her.

***

Originally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She spends her days working in the book trade and her nights writing teen fantasy novels. Her hobbies include riding horses, starting far too many craft projects, PokemonGo and looking after her city-based menagerie of pets with names from Harry Potter. Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black the cats currently run her life.

Julia is a polyamorous, bisexual writer. She regularly takes part in events for queer teens, including those organised by the Scottish Booktrust and LGBT Youth Scotland. A world traveler since childhood, she has now visited more than sixty countries. Her travels inspire the fantasy worlds she creates, though she populates them with magic and monsters.

Julia began her writing career at the age of nine, when her short story about two princesses and their horses won a contest in Touch magazine. In 2016, she published her first novel, Unicorn Tracks, which also focused on two girls and their equines, albeit those with horns. Her second novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss will be released by Interlude Press in May 2017. The book was heavily influenced by Julia’s postgraduate work in Medieval Literature at The University of St. Andrews. It is now responsible for her total obsession with beluga whales.

In August 2017, her third novel and the start of her first series, Tiger’s Watch, will come out with Harmony Ink Press. In writing Tiger’s Watch, Julia has taken her love of cats to a new level.

Learn more on her site.

The Seafarer’s Kiss is out now from Interlude Press.

***

Judith is the owner of Binge on Books, as well as the boutique press, Open Ink, and the literary PR company, A Novel Take PR. You can also find Judith on HEA USA Today and  Teen Vogue talking queer fiction.


 

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